Now that the NFL Draft is over, most teams are pretty happy about their rosters. Defense still wins championships, and it showed three of the top five defenses made it to the championship games this year. The New Orleans Saints defense snuck up on a lot of people last year, after acquiring great pieces in the draft like Marshon Lattimore and Marcus Williams. Now the question is, who will be that team in 2018? We have three possible answers at the end of free agency and the draft.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers quietly had one of the best offseasons on the defensive side of the ball. After signing Muhammad Wilkerson to pair with Mike Daniels and Kenny Clark, they have an excellent defensive front. They also now have arguably an elite group of young cornerbacks that they’ve drafted. After picking Washington corner Kevin King last season, they doubled up this year, going with Louisville’s Jaire Alexander in the first round and Iowa’s Josh Jackson in the second. The combination of size, speed, ball skills and athleticism that these guys bring to the table is going to be a force to be reckoned with heading into 2018, especially after pairing them with a defensive front that can really get after the quarterback.
The Falcons lost a big piece in Dontari Poe but gained another big one through the draft in Colorado cornerback Isaiah Oliver. Oliver gives the Falcons another excellent part of the secondary, to go along with Desmond Trufant, who is quietly one of the best corners in all of football, and Keanu Neal, a young safety who has made a significant impact from day one. Dan Quinn prides himself on having a fast, hard-hitting defense, and Isaiah Oliver is the perfect guy to add to this team. Watch out for the Falcons secondary this year, even if the front seven can’t get a great pass rush.
This isn’t really a sleeper, but more of a what-if scenario. If everyone on this team is healthy, the Texans could have a top 10 defense in the NFL. After signing Tyrann Mathieu and hitting a home run on their first pick, which came in the third round, Stanford safety Justin Reid, they will have an excellent, ball-hawking safety pair. Combining that with a healthy front seven that includes tackling machine Zach Cunningham, and a trio of exceptional pass rushers in J.J Watt, Whitney Mercilus and Jadeveon Clowney, this defense has potential to be elite. They definitely need an upgrade at cornerback, but if the front seven can stay healthy and hit home, it might not matter.